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Monday 16.01.2017 | Name days: Lida, Lidija
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Week in Lithuania. Foreign minister: Russia sanctions cannot be lifted

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Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

Lithuania‘s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius insists that the European Union (EU) should maintain sanctions on Russia, since it is the only way to get Moscow play by the rules.

Responding to talks that some EU member states would prefer to lift some of the sanctions on Russia as a sign of good will, Linkevičius told that such a move would be unreasonable. According to him, if Russia wants to once again become an important player and contribute to solving global issues, it should «definitely not make its return to the (international) arena with the methods it uses, say, in Syria».

Lithuania‘s IT sector among best-reputed in Europe

Lithuania‘s Information Technology sector has one of the best reputations in Europe. Currently, Lithuania‘s IT sector reputation index is 67 points, while the EU average is 56 points. The first ever Lithuania‘s IT sector reputation level analysis was carried out by market research and consulting company TNS LT and INFOBALT. Among four analysed sub-sectors, technology centres were found to have the best reputation; One-stop-shop sub-sector took the second place, followed by infrastructure services companies and software development companies.

Snow arena in Druskininkai to make history

For the first time in the history of Lithuanian sports, a ski race sanctioned by the International Ski Federation (FIS) will be hosted by Druskininkai. Two Olympians will represent Lithuania. The first race of the 2016 FIS Baltic Cup international ski competition, which will be held in Druskininkai Snow Arena, is less than a week away. The only indoor ski complex in the Baltics has been working hard to prepare for the event. Athletes from 18 countries will gather in Lithuania November 7 – 8. This is the second time this level of competition will be held in Druskininkai; last year the FIS allowed one of the Baltic Cup stages to be held there, which showed off the Arena’s ability to organize a ranking event.

Lithuanian police to assist Slovenia police

Twenty Lithuanian police officers from mobile units of Police Headquarters of Vilnius, Klaipėda, Šiauliai and Alytus Counties will be sent to Slovenia following the request from Slovenia‘s Ministry of the Interior. According to the Police Department, their main objective will be carrying out joint patrols with Slovenian officers, patrolling the European Union‘s external borders, providing assistance to cope with the flow of migrants, preventing crimes and other law violations. Officers will head to Slovenia in Lithuanian police vehicles, wearing Lithuanian police uniforms and carrying special equipment. Slovenia will cover the cost of the operation. Saulius Gagas, the head of Public Police Board of the Police Department, says this is the first time when such numerous police forces are heading to a foreign country to maintain public order. The officers should be leaving in the coming days.

Lithuania to consider other proposals on armoured vehicles purchase

The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence has received two new governmental proposals to purchase infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) from the United States and Poland. As a result, the Ministry decided to carry out additional analysis and referred to companies which had submitted information earlier asking to specify certain data. Now the Ministry of National Defence is analysing a total of 12 proposals. Once companies submit revised data, summarised analysis will be presented to the Defence Resources Council and, afterwards, to the State Defence Council which will decide whether IFVs should be purchased under an intergovernmental agreement or from business entities, or by joining an international programme. When the purchase method is chosen, the Ministry of National Defence will begin the acquisition process which, depending on the purchase method, should last from 4 to 10 months.

President to consult parliament on prosecutor general nomination

President Dalia Grybauskaitė will consult the board of parliament about the candidate for prosecutor general once again next week. Mindaugas Lingė, chief domestic policy adviser to the president, says that Grybauskaitė is following the procedure for appointing prosecutor general established in the Constitution which has remained unchanged for 12 years. Attempts to change it are not good for the system. Vitalijus Gailius, a member of the Committee on Legal Affairs in parliament, said that «an initiative to meet parliamentary groups to discuss candidates is welcome and such process will undoubtedly be productive.»

LNG terminal is increasing burden for Lithuania

One year-old LNG terminal is a crucial element in Lithuania‘s bid for energy independence from Russian gas and electricity imports, but arguments continue about who is going to pay for the facility‘s maintenance. The bill outlining the LNG terminal‘s financing is making its way through the Lithuanian legislature, the Seimas, and is expected to be adopted by the end of October. The government wants the costs to be shared by all gas consumers. Opponents maintain that such a scheme would not meet the social justice criterion. Lithuania‘s Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis has said that the facility has ensured energy security for Lithuania as well as other Baltic states. Meanwhile opponents say that the terminal is too big, as demand for natural gas in the country has fallen due to growing consumption of biofuel.

Lithuanian banks lower expectations for RE market

Lithuanian commercial banks are revising their expectations of real estate prices. A year ago, banks hoped that housing, particularly new developments, will see a rise in prices, while in a survey performed this autumn there wasn‘t a single bank expecting a rise in housing prices, the Bank of Lithuania said. «The abundance of new developments, particularly in Vilnius, operates as a price-stabilising factor, while the changed expectations of banks also reflect the rather balanced development of the real estate market. Now a greater number of banks expect that prices will not change, while some already signal about the possible drop in price corrections,» says Tomas Garbaravičius, board member of the Bank of Lithuania. According to Garbaravičius, these bank expectations regarding housing prices could have been influenced by amendments to the Responsible Lending Regulations, approved by the Bank of Lithuania, which will come into effect in November and will screen too risky lending for house purchase transactions.

Foreign Minister: local problems should not dwarf strategic cooperation with Poland

Lithuania is ready to work with the new government of Poland and local problems should not overshadow strategic bilateral projects, says Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius. He particularly highlighted the security situation where the Baltic States and Poland cooperate very closely. The foreign minister also said that in early November he is planning a visit to Poland where he will meet with the new government.

EU Commissioner: selection among refugees for resettlement is immoral

EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis has slammed discussions in Lithuania about selection criteria for refugee resettlement. According to Andriukaitis, who was Lithuania‘s healthcare minister before taking the job with the EU Commission, said that selections among people in the face of the current humanitarian crisis would be immoral and go against everything Europe holds as principles. Lithuania has committed itself to resettling over a thousand refugees from Syria and Iraq. The commissioner has emphasized that the EU has already decided to give priority to children, pregnant women, old and infirm people. Otherwise, legitimate refugees fleeing war in Syria will be resettled irrespectively of their qualities, Andriukaitis has insisted.

No major overhaul before 2016 Seimas election

Heads of political groups in the Seimas, the Parliament of Lithuania, on Wednesday, October 28, met with Speaker of the Seimas Loreta Graužinienė to discuss the implementation of the Constitutional Court‘s ruling on the size of electoral constituencies. A decision was reached that the parliamentary election system will not be changed for the 2016 general elections. Graužinienė told reporters that amendments to the Law on Elections to the Seimas are expected to be adopted in November. The amendments foresee revisions of constituency boundaries. As reported, the Constitutional Court has pronounced that a provision of the Law on Elections to the Seimas contradicts the Constitution. The provision in question reads that «the number of voters in constituencies must be from 0.8 to 1.2 of the average number of voters in all single-member constituencies». According to the court, the variation is too great and distorts the equality of votes.

Lithuanian PM: Nordic and Baltic states have to remain consistent in promoting their values

On Wednesday, October 28, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius participated in the Nordic-Baltic prime ministerial meeting which brought together prime ministers of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The meeting was held in Reykjavik, capital of Iceland. NB8 discussed regional issues regarding the international situation, security, Eastern neighbourhood, as well as economic reforms in Europe, including the strengthening of the Economic and Monetary Union. As noted by the participants of the meeting, the situation in Ukraine remains of concern, Minsk agreements should be fully implemented, and the Russian Federation has to fulfil its international obligations and stop aggression in Ukraine. NB8 PMs‘ agenda also included cyber security and strategic communications.

Lithuania signs convention against money laundering

The Ambassador of Lithuania to the Council of Europe, Laima Jurevičienė, and the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, have signed the Council of Europe‘s Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism. The convention will enter into effect when it is ratified by the Lithuanian Parliament. The convention is the first one to encompass the control and prevention of money laundering and financing of terrorism. The convention also establishes its implementation mechanism. The convention was adopted on 15 May 2005 in Warsaw and has been ratified by 26 countries, 12 more countries have signed the convention but are yet to ratify it.

Economy minister aims to lift Lithuania up Doing Business ranking

Lithuania‘s Economy Minister Evaldas Gustas has promised to initiate new reforms next year to improve the country’s business environment and help Lithuania move up on the Doing Business rating. According to the minister, 2016 will see changes in laws that cover the areas of the Ministries of Environment, Economy, Energy, Agriculture, Justice, Finance, and Social Security and Labour. Minister Gustas says that one of the priorities of the current government is to improve the business environment. In the Doing Business 2016 report by the World Bank, Lithuania is ranked 20th among 189 economies in the world, while among member-states of the European Union it is 8th this year. The study is published by the World Bank Group every year since 2003.

Conservative MP proposes constituency for expatriate Lithuanians

Conservative MP Kęstutis Masiulis has proposed to establish a separate electoral constituency for Lithuanian citizens who live abroad. According to him, there are around 260,000 citizens of Lithuania residing abroad, which accounts for about 9 percent of all citizens. In his words, in Croatia, 3 MPs out of 140 come from such constituencies and in Portugal- 4 MPs out of 230.

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